Home for the Holidays

As Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz longingly repeated “There’s No Place Like Home”.  The same sentiment holds true for many of us during the Holiday season, when traditions focus on togetherness, tenderness and celebration with loved ones.  More than a house or location, home lives in our hearts.  Home is where we love and belong, and with those to whom we love and belong.

For most of us however, it’s difficult or impossible to “go home” in the sense that we wish.  Due to distance that divides, divorce, death, and many other reasons, few of us can be together in the ways that we’d dearly like to be with our loved ones.  Feeling this reality is the root of stress, sadness, loneliness, discontent or depression for many during the Holiday season.

We can look to research and professional practice and find the following helpful pointer to help ourselves and others:

  • Participate in community and family traditions. Stay connected.  As human beings, we share a deep need for connectedness.  Traditions mark our values and places in life.  Especially helpful for the older and younger generations, passing traditions on and keeping them alive is greatly important. Strong families share a sense of h  Especially in these days of hurry and change, another key benefit of traditions is predictability, that sense of regularity and expectation that all family members need.  It can also be fun to create a new tradition!
  • Practice flexibility and creativity. Nearly half of families with children now have birth parents living in different homes; over half of all families are stepfamilies.  Scheduling can take on enormous proportions, so don’t let it.  Many things HAVE to be done a certain way at a certain time only because we think so.  Visualize the difference in flexibility when you try to bend a toothpick vs. a rubber band.  Better yet, try it.  You’ll see that one breaks and gets bent out of shape, while the other one flexes and gets back into shape easily.  Work together with a willingness to figure out what fits best for all concerned.  Intentional change can be very good.
  • Take good care of yourself. To prevent effects of overdoing it, keep the bases covered and keep yourself healthy.  Eat nourishing food.  Drink water.  Consume holiday treats or alcohol in moderation. Don’t try to do too much and become upset with yourself or others if everything can’t happen.  Get enough sleep and rest well.  Naps are beneficial.  Maintain physical activity.  Walks are especially good for health.  Walking with others is even better!
  • Reach out to others. Two good reasons:  “Sorrow shared is halved; Joy shared is doubled.”  Research shows increase in endorphins (the brain chemicals that cause us to feel positive and content) when we connect in good ways with others.  Smile, share greetings, and make time to visit, even if for the briefest time.  Offer help.  Forgive yourself and others.  Brighten someone’s day and you’ll brighten your own as well.
  • Keep on the sunny side. Express a sense of gratitude for all that you can do and what you do have rather than letting what you can’t do or don’t have overshadow your outlook.  You are largely in control of your perspective.  Keep negativity from taking up residence in your thoughts and feelings.
  • Look forward. Have hope and anticipation of goodness.  Look for the good and you’ll be much more likely to see it.  Plan positive projects and activities, and connect yourself with the future and with others to make them happen.  Remember that, as you make new memories, do what you can to make them good ones!